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Sensory Tools For All Kids (And Even You)

By: Christina Gentile

When my husband and I first met, we were both lawyers working at the same law firm but in different offices. Law wasn’t a good fit for him - too much sitting and not enough interaction. I remember him telling me that he used to go outside and throw a tennis ball against the building’s wall, over and over again, when he got bored. He would guzzle cans of diet coke throughout the day, just to have an excuse to get up and go to the bathroom every five minutes. Basically, he was giving himself sensory breaks without even knowing it.

Before you can approach sensory interventions and tools for your kids, start with yourself - otherwise this can seem like an abstract concept. Your sensory system has a “just right” set point - not too sluggish or slow (or “logey” as my mother would say), and not too hyper or energetic: the perfect state of alertness and flow. This set point is unique to you, and won’t look like everyone else’s. For some people, more activity and input actually helps them calm down (folks with ADHD, you may know what I’m talking about). For others, certain kinds of input can increase their anxiety, or leads to hyperactivity.

We’ve picked a few of our favorite sensory tools that are great for parents and kids. Note that not all of these will be appropriate or safe for kids (or adults) of all ages - I don’t think that my grandmother would have done well on the wobbly stool. So be sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines.

1. Active Core Engagement Wobble Stool

Speaking of the wobbly stool - this is one of those that may actually count as a core workout. It’s awesome for kids who are a little older and those who need extra movement while they’re typing, on a zoom call, or studying. Some versions are adjustable for height. Depending on the age of the user, you may need to set some expectations around how to use it.

2. Foot Fidget Bands

In a similar category, these chair bands are awesome. They attach easily (and subtly) to almost any chair, and there are a bunch of different ways to use them. They are inexpensive, simple and they aren’t likely to be misused by curious kids. Note that these won’t work on some computer chairs.

3. Bubble Popping Game

There are about 5000 versions of these on Amazon and they are completely addictive. Some make noise and others are silent - which may be an important detail to check out. They’re portable (good for longer car rides!), they can be used with others as a game or just for fun, and they’re great for stress relief.

4. Shape Shifting Cube

We included this one because, although it is a bit expensive, it’s great for a wide range of ages. Not only is it a fidget, it’s also a brainteaser, and older kids (and adults!) can challenge themselves by trying to create one of the 70 possible shapes. You also can make up your own and enjoy the quiet clicking when the pieces snap together.

We’d love to hear your feedback about these sensory tools, or any others that are your favorites!

Please check us out at to learn more about our parent support groups!

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